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by Kris Ligman

5 Jul 2011


In recent weeks I have been running a little experiment on my personal blog, Dire Critic. Several months ago I was enabled by a group of friends to invest in some classic Bioware CRPGs. I had only ever played the first Baldur’s Gate as an adolescent and it seemed I was long overdue to correct that. Partly inspired by Kirk Hamilton and Leigh Alexander’s FF7 Letters and suggestions from (recent Moving Pixels podcast guest) Eric Swain, the process quickly organized itself into a sort of interactive book club. Consciously patterned after the Vintage Game Club with the AV Club’s Rowan Kaiser as advisor and a smattering of Twitter followers playing along with us, our first game on the agenda was the critically lauded cult favorite Planescape: Torment.

I really had no idea what to expect. I try to keep as blank a slate as possible when going into media, be it a film or a game. I rarely even watch promotional trailers. So with no preconceived notions about Torment at all, apart from knowing it was “writerly” and built with Bioware’s Infinity engine, I downloaded my DRM-free copy from GoG.com, installed it, patched it to the high heaven, and ventured into the land of the dead.

by Nick Dinicola

1 Jul 2011


Nier is not a good game. It tries to be too many different types of games at once, but that’s also what makes it so incessantly interesting. It’s clearly an experimental game and wears that label like a badge of honor. Based on its core mechanics you might describe it as an “action RPG,” but its role-playing elements are so poorly thought out that it’s obvious the developers were bored of RPGs and just wanted to get to the bizarre shoot-‘em-up-puzzle-survival-horror-text-adventuring. Sadly, for as interesting as this genre-bending is, it doesn’t add anything to the overall experience. Save for a couple examples, Nier is just being weird for the sake of weird.

by Scott Juster

30 Jun 2011


After writing about how my lack of preconceived opinions impacted my response to Lugaru HD, I’ve spent some more time thinking about expectations and how they impact players’ experiences and games’ receptions.  All of it leads me to conclude that while the hype cycle keeps the medium’s business side running, it is usually bad for the artistic side.  Realistically, no one can be expected to keep themselves hermetically sealed off from a game, but hasty comparisons and preconceived notions can easily hurt both players and developers.

by G. Christopher Williams

29 Jun 2011


I noticed that the Grasshopper Manufacture logo that appears in the opening screens of Suda51 and Shinji Mikami’s new game, Shadows of the Damned, is not the version that includes the motto, “Punk’s Not Dead.”  While I don’t feel like Suda51 has fully intended to step away from his infamous “punk rock aesthetic,” this latest game does leave me wondering a bit about the viability of that approach in the climate of contemporary gaming culture.

by Kris Ligman

28 Jun 2011


Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered their decision on Brown v. EMA (formerly Schwarzenegger v. EMA), a case arguing the strict regulation of mature-rated game titles in California. The 7-2 decision to overturn the California law in favor of the game industry was hardly an upset to perhaps anyone but Senator Yee, but I would ask a larger question: what, if anything, has changed?

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Cage the Elephant Ignite Central Park with Kickoff for Summerstage Season

// Notes from the Road

"Cage the Elephant rocked two sold-out nights at Summerstage and return to NYC for a free show May 29th. Info on that and a preview of the full Summerstage schedule is here.

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